Trump's presidential nomination divided the country back in July of 2016, and the gaping chasm between left-leaning citizens and their right-sympathizing neighbors has only grown in the months since.
Feuding over politics is nothing new, even among celebs, but the latest rhetoric coming out of the White House has raised the stakes even further. With families being torn apart and deported, ill thought-out xenophobic executive orders being issued and literal white supremacists occupying highly ranked positions in the Trump administration, being apolitical has become almost impossible.
As a result, citizens and celebs alike have been increasingly vocal about their feelings toward the current presidency, with the criticism spilling over to his family too.
SNL writer Katie Rich was suspended after an offensive tweet about Barron Trump, and the internet (myself included) was quick to jump aboard the #SadMelania bandwagon, using pictures and video clips from Trump's inauguration to support the theory that Melania is just as unhappy with Trump as all of us are.
Last week saw retail giant Nordstrom drop Ivanka Trump's fashion line. While the retailer maintains the decision was purely financial, it was a move that many (again, myself included) applauded. And then this happened:
Empty seats next to Tiffany Trump. pic.twitter.com/axvYJAFupl— Christina Binkley (@BinkleyOnStyle) February 14, 2017
Seating shitshow at Philipp Plein because no editors want to sit near Tiffany Trump. SHOCKER.— Alyssa Vingan Klein (@alyssavingan) February 14, 2017
I think it's pretty clear that I'm not a Trump fan. I vehemently disagree with basically everything he thinks, says, supports and does. And perhaps it's because this incident involves Tiffany Trump, who already seems like an outcast among the Trump children (she spent almost the entire 60 Minutes interview with the show logo obscuring her face!) but this felt mean.
This felt like the behavior of kids who refuse to sit with a classmate in the cafeteria and then proudly broadcast that decision to their peers, expecting support and applause from others who dislike the classmate as much as they do.
And while some celebs have drawn a line in the sand between politics and civilian life — Emily Ratajkowski recently defended Melania Trump against slut-shaming, and Whoopi Goldberg announced on The View this morning that she'd be happy to sit with Trump at the rest of the week's shows — popular opinion seems to indicate that they deserve it.
Many seem to think that anyone connected to Trump — particularly, it seems, the high-profile women in his life — deserves to be mocked, ridiculed, ostracized and publically humiliated.
The question is are they right?
One of the strongest hallmarks of the liberal left in the battle against President Donald Trump is the theme of unity, cohesive protest, intersectionality and inclusion.
Signs at protest marches demand "Bridges, not walls." Banners carried high read, "Love Trumps Hate."
But what, then, do we call this meanness? These small acts of aggression and hostility? Does this fit? Are we practicing what we preach? Or do the calls for kindness cease when it comes to He Who Shall Not Be Named and his family?
Is it political protest? Are we right to distance ourselves from the Trump name in any way, at all costs, hurt feelings be damned, because the stakes here are simply too high?
Or are we doing what we too often do, punishing women for the actions of the men in her life? (If this sounds familiar, it should. See: Hillary being asked to defend, account for and atone for her husband's past indiscretions for the duration of her presidential campaign.)
It's a tough tightrope to walk, this balancing act between dialogue and derision and celebs often come under fire for daring to even attempt it.
Jimmy Fallon drew harsh criticism from those saying he was "normalizing" Trump when he had him on his talk show back in September 2016, cracking jokes and ruffling his hair. Trevor Noah drew similar ire when he attempted to engage right-wing mouthpiece Tomi Lahren by having her on his show a few months later in December.
One of the lesser-known Martin Luther King quotes speaks about precisely this; the danger of moderation and white politeness. The danger of pretending like everything is OK and not wanting to ruffle feathers when a little ruffling is exactly what is needed to fight injustice and overturn racist, bigoted systems of government:
"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate" he wrote in his now iconic "Letter From Birmingham Jail." "I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice..."
So when we mock and belittle Melania's apparent misery, when empty seats surround Tiffany Trump as though she were a leper — is this just another form of political protest? Are we simply taking any chance we can to denounce an anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic administration?
Or is this behavior just mean-girl misogyny in disguise?
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